Va. federal employees ‘hostage’ to lawmakers as shutdown talks continue

Posted at 5:01 PM, Sep 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-24 17:37:15-04

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) — The federal government could be days away from shutting down, though the process would be quite lengthy and many analysts say that what is happening now is a bunch of words and posturing meant to bolster positions on either side of the debate.

Currently in Congress, many House Republicans are refusing to authorize a new funding bill without de-funding President Obama’s signature healthcare law.

“Let’s defund this now,” Rep. Eric Cantor (R) said on the floor of the House last week, describing “Obamacare” as an “economic calamity.”

If Congress doesn’t pass a funding bill by October 1, the federal government could close many of its doors.  Several Virginia economists say a government shutdown would have a far more severe impact on the Virginian economy.

Presently, hundreds of thousands of Virginia jobs depend on the federal government.

Under a shutdown, many of the non-essential employees would be sent home with no paycheck, with no guarantee the government will again fund their salaries once the federal government returns to service.

For military servicemen and women, a shutdown would still require them to go to work however they would not be paid in cash but rather in “IOUs.”

Area national park sites, like Chimborazo Park off Broad Street and the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar would close immediately.

Federal courthouses would be open for at least 10 days following a shutdown while passport applications, student and business loan requests, and federal gun permits would be halted.

Some services would not be impacted however; for things like social security checks, air travel, area FBI offices, and mail delivery.

The longest government shutdown was in 1995 and lasted three weeks. According to the Congressional Research Service, that shutdown actually cost the federal government millions of dollars.

Republican Governor Bob McDonnell distanced himself from Republicans in Congress Tuesday saying on WTOP radio that Virginia federal workers should not be held “hostage.”